Deafblind Association New Zealand Charitable Trust
Chairperson’s Report 2017-2018
26 June 2018
It is with pleasure that I reflect on the work of Deafblind Association NZ Charitable Trust over the past year.
And have the opportunity to share some of the highlights of that work in this report. Leading into our AGM at which this report will be presented, we have had requests for copies of minutes on CD and in large print by those of you interested but unable to be present this year. We will be posting this report, our Financial Report, and minutes of the AGM on our website; however, please don’t hesitate to ring our 0800 450 650 number or email us to receive copies in your preferred format. We will be pleased to get them to you, and we encourage your feedback.
As this report is being written, preparation is in full swing around the country for Helen Keller Day, 27 June. The celebration is in collaboration with the Blind Foundation, who have supplied resources, both financial and material, for us to speak about a woman who has become iconic.
Our annual report to Charities Services was successfully lodged by the 30 September 2017 deadline. You can find this report here: https://www.register.charities.govt.nz/Charity/CC53793. Special thanks is due to Lynda Stevenson, accountant and board member, for her considerable time, competency, and dedication to detail in respect of this report.
We have received funding from the Blind Foundation to enable our work for the 2017-18 annual cycle. It is with appreciation and thanks to them that we are able to connect with you on an increasingly frequent basis. Having sought and received your permission, the Blind Foundation are now sharing your contact details so that we can reach out to more of you. As the year goes by, we have received more phone calls to our 0800 number from you, our community. The Blind Foundation Outlook magazine also has our details.
In terms of connection by email, we are now a whisker short of 100 people on our lists, which include our Deafblind Discuss Group. The youngest person we have connected with is 13, and another can count 100 years of wisdom! Additionally, we have provided connection for a volunteer to walk alongside a member of our non-verbal deafblind community.
The DBANZ-Discuss Group is a way for those with an interest in deafblind issues to communicate about a wide range of topics, from service and social policy issues, to technology that might mitigate deafblindness, to strategies for feeling more included. All deafblind-related topics are welcome. Go to www.deafblindassociation.nz and click on The DBANZ-Discuss Email Group to follow the 3 easy steps to join the discussion.
Our website is now launched. It includes space for a blog and a discussion list. We also list our resources, which we are updating as our community advise the need for service. Our deafblind network links show geographical areas which have people with lived experience of deafblindness as contacts for peer-to-peer support. This means deafblind can design their own communication styles, events, or anything else as dictated by age, geographical, cultural, or other interests. Network areas are in no way limited to one person as a contact. Interests vary, and there could be several small or large groups in any area. Contacts have been established in Canterbury, Dunedin, Nelson, and Waikato.
In March 2018, we were advised by Latoa and Tewai Halatau of Visionary Living that the World Federation of Deafblind (WFDB) were attempting to reinvigorate connections with deafblind in New Zealand. We were delighted to host Geir Jensen, President (Norway), Christer Nilssen, Treasurer (Sweden), and their 4 interpreters. This collaborative opportunity among Deafblind Association NZ, World Federation of Deafblind, Blind Foundation, Blind and Low-vision Education Network NZ (BLENNZ), and Blind Citizens NZ strengthened the global network for deafblind. It’s important to note that the WFDB are entirely voluntary, having no staff or funding. Geir received funding from the Federation of Norwegian Deafblind (FNDB) to attend the meeting, Christer paid his own way, and they both paid for their interpreters. We noted with interest that the Norwegian government partly fund the FNDB.
We learned about Social Haptics from Geir, Christer, and their interpreters. It is a tactile way of giving information about one’s social environment, and in no way replaces speech or sign language, but can be used additionally to give a fuller picture of what is happening around us. We are investigating how this form of communication might best be added into the Aotearoa context.
The relationship between Deafblind Association NZ and iSign is building, and we have developed successful connections between those in need of interpreters and the iSign service. This service’s benefits have ranged from supporting a prize-winner at a cat show to promoting access to both the Board’s AGM and the meet-and-greet that follows presentation of this report. This assists transparency of our organisation’s work, with a view to promoting informed decision-making in our community. We are very pleased that MP Ruth Dyson, our patron, will attend the meet-and-greet.
Last year, Deafblind Association NZ was invited to join the Ministry of Health’s Disability Support Services Consumer Consortium. Amanda Stevens, Executive Officer, and I have attended 3-day meetings twice in this annual cycle. It is encouraging that the credibility of our organisation is creating these connections. As we build our communications across our community, we invite deafblind users of Disability Support Services to contact us so that we may bring your views to this consortium. It’s another tool we can use to make the voices of deafblind heard.
In the coming year we hope to connect with more of you in more regions, but that will depend on funding for assisting short-distance travel. Meanwhile, I look forward to meeting with some of you on 30 June and connecting with as many of you as possible in the coming year – a year greatly anticipated by our organisation.
David Wilson, Chair
Deafblind Association of New Zealand Charitable Trust